Sidney is applying for more than $22,000 in provincial support to help create better evacuation routes in the community as a report points to a range of “threats” to a successful evacuation.
“Evacuation readiness is a critical element to assisting our residents following an emergency,” said Mike Harman, deputy fire chief with the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department, in a report to council describing the advanced evacuation route planning project. “This funding will allow us to build (evacuation routes) in Sidney, on the Saanich Peninsula, and in the Capital Regional District.”
According to the report, the planning project would “validate assumptions and develop evacuation aids” for the municipality, addressing “critical constraints and vulnerabilities” specifically “related to evacuation success in considering a variety of threats.”
The report then discusses the municipality’s demographics. While Sidney is home to 11,672 residents living in about 5,600 private dwellings, 2,690 Sidney residents are 75 years or older, according to the report, citing Statistics Canada. “These persons may require assistance in preparing for emergencies, and need special care during evacuation,” it reads.
The second threat to a successful evacuation appears to be urban infrastructure. “Road egress routes in some neighbourhoods within the (municipal) limits are limited,” it reads. Identified areas of concern include residential neighbourhoods with one-road access adjacent to Highway 17, residential areas confined by the waters of the Salish Sea and neighbourhoods immediately adjacent to Victoria International Airport.
The report says that any successful evacuation would require “the risk awareness and participation of residents” and the (municipality) would use this project to enhance the understanding of local risks and preparedness among residents, engaging them in neighbourhood evacuation planning.
The planned project would also review on current emergency support services (ESS) capacities within Peninsula Emergency Measures Organization (PEMO), assisting in identifying ways to increase ESS capacities.
The source of the funding would be community emergency preparedness fund (CEPF), described as a suite of funding programs designed to enhance the resiliency of municipal governments and their respective residents in responding to emergencies. Funding comes out of provincial coffers with the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) administrating the funds.
Council endorsed the application.
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